50 ideas for a $20,000 police grant

Does your department keep a list of possible projects for grant-funding opportunities?

The New York City Police Foundation recently announced a 50 Grants for 50 Precincts initiative to encourage innovative funding ideas from the NYPD precincts across each of the city’s five boroughs. The foundation is seeking proposals that promote officer wellness, support community engagement efforts, or honor fallen officers, as well as other ideas that serve the needs of a local precinct and its community. The foundation will select 50 recipients to receive up to $20,000 each.

The NYPD has an annual budget of more than $10 billion, but there are always ideas, programs and needs that go unfunded in every department. Relative to the department size and budget $20,000 is not a lot, but every public safety leader knows that $20,000 spent on the right project or product can have an impact on officer morale or readiness.

Police departments, as well as other public safety agencies, should consider any grant funding, regardless of the dollar amount. Of course, many agencies would like a $700,000 grant to combat gun violence or a $10 million grant to hire more officers. But the reality is that a lot of grants are available from community foundations, civic groups and private foundations in the $500 to $50,000 range, like the $14,500 grant a New Jersey police department received to purchase a mechanical CPR device.

If funds were available, what are your department’s or precinct's needs?
If funds were available, what are your department’s or precinct's needs? (Image/iStock)

An important step for regularly applying for and winning grant awards is to have an idea or project list. If funds were available, what are your department’s or precinct's needs?   

Loosely based on the New York City Police Foundation’s solicitation for proposals that promote officer wellness, support community engagement efforts, honor fallen officers or might meet the needs of the precinct and community, here are 50 ideas to fund with a $20,000 grant.

Officer wellness grant-funded project ideas

  1. Yoga for First Responders: Provide train-the-trainer certification for willing officers to teach others yoga practice.
  2. Peer support: Stand-up and sustain a peer support team.
  3. Comfort or therapy K9: Purchase, train and care for a precinct therapy K9, which can assist officers, as well as be a member of community outreach efforts.
  4. Occupational or physical therapist: Contract with a therapist to make regular visits to the station to consult with staff about minor or nagging injuries, preventative exercises to reduce back and other musculoskeletal problems.
  5. Personal trainer: Contract with a trainer to help officers develop a fitness, age and assignment-specific exercise plan.
  6. Nutritionist or dietician: Contract with an expert who can help officers plan healthy meals, change their eating habits and lose weight.
  7. Gym or fitness center membership: Pay for each officer’s membership to the YMCA, Planet Fitness or other gym or fitness studio.
  8. Safe sleep room: Dedicate a room in the station with furnishings, lighting, and noise reduction paneling as a rest and recovery room for officers who need a place to sleep before driving home or a chance to relax after a stressful incident.

Honoring fallen officer grant-funded project ideas

  1. Memorial: Fund the creation and display of a memorial plaque, garden or other type of recognition for the department’s fallen officers.
  2. Annual luncheon: Host a gathering for the immediate family of the department’s fallen officer to honor their loved one’s sacrifice and keep them connected to the department’s officers.
  3. Scholarships for surviving children: Fund opportunities for a fallen officer’s children to attend summer camp, vocational school or college.
  4. Portrait of the fallen officer: Commission a local artist to paint a portrait of the officer or a historian to tell the story of the officer’s career.

Officer training grant-funded project ideas

  1. Online training: Purchase each officer a subscription to an online training program, like the Police1 Academy.
  2. Screen a police documentary: Police officers, like “Ernie and Joe Crisis Cops,” are available for private screening to police and community groups.
  3. Expert speaker series: Co-plan a regular speaker series with community groups in the precinct to educate officers and community members.
  4. Simulation: Work with a criminal justice program or neighboring department to give officers access to high-fidelity simulation.
  5. Training ammunition: Officers want more range time, especially for realistic combat-type scenarios. Make sure ammunition isn’t a limiting factor.
  6. Training props: Forcible entry is a high-risk activity. Purchase a door prop and training so officers can practice forcible entry and breaching following department procedures.
  7. Mat room: Purchase new mats, props, or lockers for the station’s mat room or use for renting access to a gym or facility with a mat room officers can use regularly to practice escapes and ground fighting.
  8. Understanding autism: Teach officers to identify and better understand individuals with autism to reduce the risk of misunderstanding or injury during these encounters.
  9. Martial arts instructor: Hire an instructor to teach officers Jiu Jitsu or another martial art.
  10. Defensive tactics training: Hire an instructor or train-a-trainer in your department to teach officers defensive tactics for hand-to-hand encounters with combatants.
  11. Firearms training: Make sure the department or precinct firearms instructor has recent training by sending them to training programs for different types of firearms, such as handguns, shotguns and patrol rifles.
  12. Stop the Bleed and CPR: Every officer should know how to stop severe bleeding, perform hands-only CPR and use an AED. Bring in instructors for these important topics or train a trainer for the department or precinct.
  13. Naloxone administration: In partnership with local EMS or public health, teach officers to recognize an opioid overdose and how to administer Narcan with a nasal spray or auto-injector.

Police product grant-funded project ideas

Many of these ideas may exceed $20,000 and might be funded with a grant that matches department budgeted contributions, fundraising or funding from multiple grants.

  1. Drone/UAS: Every department should have access to a drone/UAS for investigation, search and rescue, traffic incidents and other high-risk or prolonged incidents.
  2. New less lethal tech: The BolaWrap is a less-lethal alternative to subdue a noncompliant subject while reducing injury risk to officers and the subject.
  3. Individual first aid kit: Every officer should have an IFAK, with at least one tourniquet, on their duty belt, in a packet or on their duty vest.
  4. Civil unrest PPE: Purchase helmets and goggles for every patrol officer.
  5. COVID protection kit: Assemble small kits, including face masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves officers can keep in their patrol car, locker and go-bag.
  6. Traffic control: The roadway is a high-risk area for cops. Use grant funding to purchase cones, lights, signs and other products to reduce the risk to police officers working on the roadway.
  7. Active shooter response kits: A patrol officer responding to an active killer needs a compact go-bag for two ammunition magazines, knife, flashlight batters and a few other essentials if they are away from their vehicle and other supplies for an hour or more.

Officer recruitment grant-funded project ideas

  1. Recruitment consultant: Hire an expert to review the department’s current process and materials for recruiting applicants. Make modifications after the expert’s review.
  2. Online advertising: Use Google, Facebook and Amazon ads to target advertising and social posts to specific interest and demographic groups.
  3. Event travel and space: Police recruiters need to go where the potential applicants are and this may require travel, event space rental and materials for an effective event.
  4. Recruitment video: Partner with a video production company make a video for recruits that communicates your department’s mission, ideal applicants and community impact.
  5. Background investigation software: Departments can make the recruiting process more efficient with software products for background investigations and tracking the status of recruits in the hiring process.
  6. Cadet or explorer program: Use grant funding for materials and activities for a police department cadet or explorer program.

Community engagement grant-funded project ideas

  1. Community Care Fund: Use a grant contribution to seed a Community Care Fund, which officers can use to “bridge the gap between a person’s immediate needs and already existing community resources.”
  2. Gift cards: Purchase gift cards from restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations within the department’s jurisdiction for officers to hand-out to individuals in need, such as people experiencing homelessness or domestic violence.
  3. Hygiene kits: Work with a community partner, such as a church youth group or homeless shelter, to purchase supplies for and create hygiene kits with specific items for me, women, and children.
  4. Bikes and bike helmets: Stock up on bikes and helmets for an annual department bike giveaway and bike safety instruction.
  5. Stuffed animals and toys: Most officers like to have a stuffed animal or toy to give to a child in crisis or simply in need of a gift from a friendly officer.
  6. Youth drug and alcohol education: Funding to deliver programs in schools and to other youth groups about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
  7. Driving safety PSAs: Fund programs and public service announcements related to the NHTSA safety campaigns to Move Over, Drive Sober, Click it or Ticket, and Distracted Driving initiatives
  8. Coffee with a cop: Host a regular coffee with a cop at different cafes and restaurants within the jurisdiction.
  9. Cause-related promotion: Use to show the department’s participation and engagement in causes like breast cancer awareness, pride events, or Black history month.
  10. Youth sports teams: Partner with athletic leagues to sponsor youth sports teams or launch a Police Athletic League.
  11. Community education videos: Hire a video production company to make critical incident videos with bodycam, in-car video and officer explanations of critical incidents.
  12. Citizen’s Academy: Provide community training in law enforcement activities, such as investigations, patrol, response to different types of incidents and use of force situations.

Maybe one of these ideas will inspire your department to pursue grant-funding from a local foundation or civic group. To get started with grant writing, check out the free resources available on PoliceGrantsHelp.com. If you have other ideas for grant-funded projects or want to share a grant funding success with us, email editor@police1.com.

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